Who wants to be your next President?

captura-de-pantalla-2016-11-14-a-las-10-05-52After a tiring and –for many– frustrating election, SIPA has the opportunity to host its own. Will the future policymakers take advantage of this situation? How will they vote?

The Morningside Post wants to get involved in the process.

We have talked to the students running for President of SIPASA. This is what they shared with us.

Katarina Mayers

Q: Why is SIPASA relevant for students?

A: I see SIPASA as the only opportunity for students to be active on campus. Especially since we are going to be global policy leaders it is also an opportunity for us to get hands on experience in terms of working with issues and finding actions in ways that address them. As of SIPASA’s role on campus I see it, firstly, as to represent all students –that is domestic and international– to really understand the concerns and to work collaboratively with all offices of the administration to find viable solutions.

Q: Why should students vote in the SIPASA elections?

A: Especially with what happened last week I think that as global policy leaders we should be setting the standard. We cannot expect to be policymakers in our own communities, expect people to vote regardless of the government that works in our country, we can not ask people to be involved if we at SIPA are not involved. So I hope that people will turn out on Wednesday and vote for the platform that they think works the most and I hope they consider me since I am here to work together to integrate and forge a stronger community. That starts here at SIPA.

Q: Aren’t you tired of campaigns and elections?

A: I am guilty of that too. I felt really discouraged last week. Seeing someone who I really admire for most of my life, to come from public service and to realize that sometimes it is a sacrifice knowing that, perhaps, I could have gone to the private sector, I could have been an entrepreneur, so it was really discouraging. But I think that she said it best in her concession speech, that it’s worth to fight for what is right and I think that what is right is to improve our community so that we all feel that we are a part of something bigger. We are policymakers, a lot of us are going to go into government, a lot of us may be behind the scene, we may not be the public official, but we need to act. If it is not us who is making the change, who will be doing that? If we are not responsible for our communities, who would be doing that work? So it was tough, I am still pushing forward and I am trying to remain positive. I feel that I can impact things, that together we can improve the status quo.

Q: Mention three abilities or skills that our next SIPASA President should have?

A: Number one is experience. I come from public service and I know how it is to be in a thankless job. But for me, what I have most joy in is working with a team to get things done. We can talk about things all day. Saying this is wrong and that is wrong, but what are we doing actively to improve the situation or to change it? So, number one, experience and I hope to bring that to the table.
Number two is perseverance. To go along with everything that we have been saying about being discouraged, and about how campaigns and elections matter. I am aware that SIPASA is only a one year commitment, because we are on campus for only two years. But my parents taught me perseverance. My mother grew up in poverty, in the Philippines; she came to the United States because of her education and because she believed in better opportunities so I want to bring that to the job. I bring that to every job. Unpaid or not. Perseverance to work with the students of this community.
And the last one is integrity. I think it’s so easy for us to get bogged down or to get distracted. But I feel that my intentions are in the right place. I am here to serve others and I hope that others would do the same. I hope that others would want to serve others because that is why we picked a public policy school and not another kind of school.

Q: If elected, what would you do that no one else could do?

A: I think it goes back to my passion for giving back. A different part of my platform that I don’t think anyone else has is my commitment to public service. I’ve served for eight years and I’m committed to do it here at school. I have already established a very good relationship with the Community Board at Harlem. I think one major part of my platform that sets me apart is that. We talk about being policy leaders and we talk about getting hands on experience, but we have neighbors and we have community members we don’t really interface with. That should change. That should really change. We need to set the standard for what it really, truly means to be an impactful policymaker.

Q: If elected, what would be different when we meet the next year?

A: I am hoping that people will feel that they are part of something bigger and that we are a stronger community. Two major tenets you get in my platform are mentorship programs and that is going to be between first and second years and that is going to be between all students here and alumni. So, obviously, we are currently first years but we are going to be here next year, we will be second years, and I hope that we can share all our knowledge with the people who luckily will get into this school and might feel that they are confused with the registration process or overwhelmed by all the choices or lack of choices that they have here. So it’s really being helpful to the people coming in.

Q: Are you running because it “looks nice” in your resume?

A: Absolutely not because I know that working on SIPASA is a lot of work. It is a lot of work. It is a full time job, it is unpaid. Most of it is thankless work. I so admire Thomas, Ana and the whole current SIPASA board because there is no way you can fulfill all the expectations of all the students and that is just the reality of anybody who represents a constituency. But again, I come from public service, I know what it means to feel like to have a thankless job but I am not here for the recognition. I am here to get the job done because I have experience and I think that I have a platform that is doable, that is achievable and I want to improve the experience of students.

Q: Why did you choose to run for that position and not a different one?

A: I have always been a support for others. I think, in a way, a lot of people on campus we are sort of overachievers. I have been president of different organizations so I am hoping that this will be my one commitment besides coursework. I really had to push myself. I thought that as a woman I am so used to: “Oh yeah, let me help you here. Let me help you there”. I was asked to be a vice president on a different team but I pushed myself. I am here for the challenge. I have learned a lot. I am hoping that I will be voted in because of my merits and because of what I can contribute.

Q: What are your thoughts on the students that are running for the same position?

A: It’s really tough. Eli, Yuvi, and I were all in the same orientation group. For them to both run I was really excited, honestly. Because we are all “C”, we are “cool cats”; and we are all very close in that group. My first thought was, I hope this does not separate people in the group or ruin the community that we have. But I think that they both have different strengths, they come from different communities and I hope that I can be the best one to push them together. I wish them the best on this campaign, I have talked to both of them. This is the hard thing, we are friends too. Regardless if I am elected or not, I am going to work hard on the platform, whether or not it is with the title.

Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh)

Q: Why is SIPASA relevant for students?

A: As students, we don’t just come here for rote academic learning. When we invest so much of our life here, we need to take advantage of the opportunities and programs here. Holistic growth at this prestigious school should be a common aim. SIPASA can affect how and where SIPA heads in the next couple of years, regarding fund allocation, study and research focus, and student involvement in all aspects of its functioning. SIPA is a home away from home for most students here, and SIPASA is an integral part of making it feel like so.

Q: Why do students should vote in this election?

A: It comes down to how passionately we are willing to get involved. If you do not vote, people who get elected would be solely on the basis of popularity. Look at the individual agendas, common benefits, and  how it all affects you not only while at school, but also after having graduated from SIPA.

Q: Aren’t you tired of campaigns and elections?

A: This is a hard week for everybody. Most of my hours are spent talking to people. It’s a fantastic experience. I want to be involved in public office in India. Making interactive conversation with all these interesting people here turns out be entertaining, if done right. I have met so many new people, and I enjoy every moment of it. I am exhausted from the work behind my campaign. But electoral processes are interesting if carried out properly. It never gets old.

Q: Mention three abilities or skills that our next SIPASA President should have?

  1. Reachable – People should feel comfortable reaching out to their leaders. A healthy channel of communication is a must. This is possible when we are responsive to constructive feedback.
  2. Accountability – It is important that somebody with integrity holds positions of power. The person holding office is responsible for making executive decisions for the entire student body, and so must be ready to face scrutiny and criticism.
  3. Objectivity – We all have personal inclinations and passions. But at this level, being a representative, one must do away with personal or uninformed decisions, since it prohibits you from making the right choices. Making decisions that are inclusive and not exclusive is something that every leader is expected to do.

Q: If elected, what would you do that no one else could do?

A: The previous SIPASA boards did good work. My agenda is aimed at understanding the current extent of the existing framework and pushing its boundaries. I would say the difference lies in dividing tasks in strategic ways. Such as creating a global leadership development program, by giving students opportunities to meet with policy leaders while traveling internationally, using partner schools and Columbia Global Centers.

On another note, SIPA has an international community of over 60%. No single chair represents this. If we are able to institute a new chair for this in SIPASA, I have already gotten ISSO to agree to set up a full time liaison just to help out internationals students regarding their multitude of problems regarding travel, insurance, etc, instead of being required to travel till 133rd street just to get a single signature.

Q: If elected, what would be different when we meet the next year?

A: Lots more transparency. I want to focus on eliminating grey areas regarding elections, programs that SIPASA is doing and their progress. I want to bring out improved student feedback, grow it as an organization, and develop institutional relationships between SIPA and Columbia university. This would decrease bureaucratic delays currently faced. I am also doing this to get a sense of how I would be committed for a role such as this without any sort of incentive or remuneration. This position will help me develop and improve existing skill sets since I wants to get into public office. That is the mindset I have, and this will remain pretty much the same on a personal front.

Q: Are you running because it looks good on your resume?

A: No. In fact, OCS has already rejected my resume twice due to improper format. There’s too much stuff I refuse to remove. Adding one more line is not the main reason behind this move. Based on my previous experiences, I have enough relevant experience to put on my resume, to use for my future goals. So, this is definitely not my primary motivation. But of course, holding this position would be incredible, and I would be honored to put it on my resume.

Q: Why did you choose to run for that position and not a different one?

A: My personality is such that I am comfortable in leadership positions across organizations. I used to be the cricket team Captain in school and undergrad at Georgia Tech. I was also involved in leadership positions in Ernst & Young, AISEC and my Capstone engineering project with the United Nations World Food Programme. My skill sets have always been associated with leading people. My strong point is that I am able to harness other people’s talents, identify and tap into hidden synergies, and bring out effective and successful outcomes. I have a proven track record, and I am confident I can keep doing that.

Q: What are your thoughts on the students that are running for the same position?

A: Both Eli and Katarina are good friends from my Seeples group. This is a great opportunity, for a friendly race. We will push each other on agendas, and it will be a fun uphill battle. They are both fantastic individuals, and I have known both of them since the start. Given that they are such impressive individuals, I hope they give out well researched agendas.

Eli Yang

Q. Why is SIPASA relevant for students?

A: SIPASA is the bridge between SIPA, students and Columbia university. SIPASA has the voice to tell the School and University our needs and bears the responsibility to help with them. We are future leaders and policy makers, and this Association has the clout to help other smaller student groups within the community, such as regional groups. It also holds the communications network to spread information for students in terms of scholarship opportunities, conferences, career opportunities. In effect, SIPASA directly affects student life in a very considerable measure.

Q. Why should students should vote in this election?

A: We are students of public policy and reform. It influences all of us currently. In the future, it will affect people around us. As a democratic society, we need to practice what we preach. If we want people around us to act with responsibility, we should be the first to set precedent. This is how leadership works.  Sometimes it is not just about the vote. It is about the trend we set. Voting in the elections is the only power we have to affect this change. We are all individuals, true. But we are all members of this community at the same time. The community only becomes strong, when we stand together.

Q: Aren’t you tired of campaigns and elections?

A: No. I started preparing early for this. The position of SIPASA President interested me from the start. I know that many students feel underrepresented even here in such an international melting pot like SIPA. I believe I am the first Chinese student to stand for President of SIPASA.

Q: Mention three abilities or skills that the next SIPASA President should have:

  1. Vision – I am an experienced business owner. I focused on the automobile trade industry between US and China and set foot in it during senior year at undergrad. I even rejected a job offer from Ernst & Young to follow my dream of being a small business owner.
  2. Communication skills – I persuaded 4 seniors into joining business without guaranteed paychecks for the first year. This is just one of the examples I can quote to show that I have the skills to approach tough negotiations. But I am also empathetic enough to know the costs of a hard decision, and I always try make up for it in other ways. Ever since my business started generating income, I ensured my employees were paid before I was.
  3. Determination – Focusing on a goal and going after it, is what sets me apart. After 2 years of starting up my business, I have handed over my responsibilities to a fellow cofounder. I came to SIPA as a grad student because I wanted to become a public servant to help improve people’s lives.

Q: If elected, what would you do that no one else could do?

A: I will devote a lot of time. I am planning to pursue a PhD in China after SIPA. So I will not be spending time on professional pursuits or networking. Part time internships are not to necessary for this either. Thanks to the income from my company on the side, I am fortunate enough not to spend too much time applying and working towards obtaining scholarships. So I am already well set to devote enough and more time to leading SIPASA and effecting change. Before worrying about my personal wellbeing, I will concentrate more on the needs of individuals and social and regional organizations in SIPA.

Q: If elected, what would be different when we meet the next year?

A: The students will have less financial stress, employment rate will rise and the student community will be more connected and closer knit.

Q: Are you running because it looks good on your resume?

A: No. I do not need this on my resume. As a future PhD student, this will not be very useful on my resume. I hope to become a professor or public officer in China. I will not be looking at private sector jobs at all. Also, I do not think that having this point on my resume will be a very accurate representation of the person I have evolved to become after 5-10 years.

Q: Why did you choose to run for that position and not a different one?

A: To devote as much of myself as possible to SIPA. From the start of the semester, I have been so inspired by the passion of the students here, regarding public matters issues. Being President, I would be able to serve and help out the best way I can.

Q: What are your thoughts on the students that are running for the same position?

A: I am so impressed. Both of my competitors are very talented and experienced. We are all from the same Seeples group. Despite competition, we are very close friends. This is going to be a friendly competition between us. If elected, I will definitely invite their advice for all my programs. I take their opinions seriously.

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